UMass Amherst football plays its first home game of the season Saturday against the University of Maine at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The stakes for UMass go beyond the field as the team starts its second season in college football’s top division.
The odds of a winning season for UMass aren’t great, coming off a 1-11 season last year, and a 45-0 pummeling in Wisconsin last weekend.
“Realistically, we’re probably looking at a season with more losses than wins,” says finance professor Nelson Lacey, who also serves on an ad hoc advisory committee for the school’s football program. Lacey says the team’s lack of wins since moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision, coupled with playing home games at Gillette Stadium, makes it difficult to get fans in the stands.
“And so we get this Catch-22 where unless we start winning, we’re really probably not going to build a huge amount of support to get lots and lots of people in the stadium,” says Lacey, “but how do you get to the point where you start winning?”
The team needs to average 15,000 fans per home game this year to avoid a ten year probation.